Joseph and Dina Fadlon

"I moved to Israel in 1949 from Tripoli, Libya, with my wife and my daughter, Miriam. In 1951, I was on mandatory service (in the armored corps) in Julis. I got a quarterly vacation of 12 days, during which my daughter got dysentery and was hospitalized at Tel Hashomer. On the last day of my vacation I had to return to the unit by midnight, and I went to visit the girl in the hospital. There I met a doctor in a military uniform with three fig leaves, who turned to me in English and said, “Soldier, tomorrow you will receive a telegram about the state of your child.” The next morning a telegram indeed arrived to the base, and the commander told me, “Return home immediately.” When I left the base I discovered that the pass I was given said, “mourning leave.” I did not understand what that meant. I came home and met my father in law and my wife. My wife said she received a telegram about the death of the child.

I did not understand what happened. The day before I was holding the child’s hand, who was healthy and laughing ... I went to obtain a warrant from Chevra Kadisha [the Jewish burial society] of Beersheba to bury the child. There I had to pay 60 Liras for the burial. My military salary was 22.5 Liras, so I went to Julis to my commander and asked him, “How can I pay such a sum?” The commander replied, “You will not pay, I'll get you a van and two soldiers, they will bury the child, and go in peace.”

I went with my father in law to the hospital, and they sent us to the refrigerator for the storage of corpses. Out of it they took out a corpse which was in an advanced stage of rotting. My father in law said that it is impossible that a body will be so rotten only a day after the death. I had never seen a corpse, and thought it was normal. We buried her on Tuesday before Rosh Hashanah.

I worked very hard in this country. 40 years I worked for Mekorot. I fought in all the wars. I raised nine children with my wife. But today I have no sentiment for this country. I want to find my daughter. I do not care if I find her with an adoptive family and she wants to stay there. The most important thing is that I know she is alive. My wife suffers from heart disease. Like me she wants to live to see her eldest daughter. Our Miriam.”

(Testimony of Joseph Fadlon given to the nonprofit Mishkan Ohalim in 1995)

The sister adds today:

When I was about 11-12 years old my paternal grandparents moved to Holon, My grandfather was passing through Jaffa and saw a girl resembling one of his daughters. He followed her, came into a neighborhood of Bulgarians and began to inquire about the girl and was told she was adopted. After he found out, the girl and her family disappeared. A few years later, when I was about 15, a military draft arrived, and the military police arrived and charged her with desertion. My grandfather refused to testify that she had died, but said he was ready to testify that she had been kidnapped. Until the day they died my parents waited for their daughter to open the door and say, "I am your daughter, I have arrived."